New preschool brings little kids and seniors together at Oak Park Arms
A new preschool in Oak Park is bridging the gap between some of the village’s youngest and oldest residents.
Kindness Creators recently held its first day of classes for preschoolers age three to five, with its students gathering daily inside the Oak Park Arms retirement community, 408 S. Oak Park Ave.
During the school day, residents of Oak Park Arms are invited to volunteer at the preschool to interact with the children during organized activities.
“About a year ago, we started the construction process and are now up and running,” Kindness Creators co-founder Pam Lawrence said. “It’s been amazing. I feel like when the seniors come in, the children respond to them and interact with them. We tell the seniors, when they come in, to do something they like or they can observe, whatever makes them happy.”
Though Kindness Creators has two classrooms available at Oak Park Arms, Lawrence and her co-founder Jaime Moran are currently co-teaching in one of the rooms to start the year.
“There are residents who come down to us and spend time with our kids,” Moran said. “We’re making a schedule, and we also pick a day to visit people who couldn’t come down to us or are not ready to come to us. We’re trying to find those seniors who would benefit from being with us and trying to break them out of their shell.”
In preparation for the first day of school Aug. 29, residents of Oak Park Arms helped make crayon and marker boxes, knitted animals and created a happy birthday sign for birthday celebrations.
According to the school’s founders, intergenerational activities can give older adults feelings of accomplishment and success, while children gain the skills and proficiencies that older adults have to share. Children can also learn patience, acceptance, social maturity and, in some cases, higher academic performance.
Lawrence and Moran say the idea behind the school came partly from their own family experiences and seeing similar schools open overseas. Read more ->
By Steve Schering – September 6, 2019
Pioneer Press – Chicago Tribune – Oak Park Oak Leaves